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With Dead in the Manger’s debut EP, Transience, two genres that are not usually associated in the least bit come crashing together in one eighteen minute assault on your senses. Combining the harrowing atmosphere of depressive black metal and the intense blasting nature of grindcore, you’re senses are sure to be pulled in several directions all at once. Completely forget the fact that these genres have, until now, been incompatible, because Dead in the Manger forces these two opposites to merge into a cohesive, destructive opus unlike anything else out there. The band’s label, 20 Buck Spin, claims that there is little known about this band, including their location and members’ names. Sure, there are a lot of bands attempting to go for the whole obscurity and anonymity thing lately, so who cares if there’s another.
Regardless, with Transience the band is intent on creating a violently malformed and mentally exhausting trip through the darkest depths of your subconscious. The album starts with what could pass as an introduction to any depressive black metal album, all cold and hopeless, but without so much as a faint notice, things get ugly fast. When the label said that the band was mixing depressive black metal and grindcore, they were right, but it’s in a way that really defies description. The album’s intro and some other moments throughout the EP have that depressing, lifeless void kind of feel to them, like the melodic minor key picking during “Part VI”, but the drums stay within the realms of blasting and pummeling creating a caustic sound with influences from both scenes. Most of the EP’s runtime is dominated by those blasting drums, which, into aside, never let up. It’s up to the guitar patterns to alternate between dismal minor keys and grinding trem riffs.
Really the band’s music sounds the most gripping during the chaotic drumming and melodic, yet fast paced and cyclical, trem riffing during “Part IV”. It’s trance-inducing with its repetitive nature, but rather than a meditative state, it’s a trance similar to shock where your body is responding by instinct alone. That’s not to say that the band’s most aggressive styling, like on “Part II”, with its two minutes of grinding blasting, isn’t equally impressive. As disjointed as it sounds on paper, it works surprisingly well. Everything sounds bleak and lifeless, even when the band is firing on all cylinders. While the guitars are a little too far forward in the mix and the drums are a little far back, the production isn’t terrible like more grindcore and most depressive black metal albums, as this is completely listenable from start to finish.
Dead in the Manger have really stumbled onto something special here. Combining the atmospheric loneliness of depressive black metal and the violent, malignant tendencies of grindcore, the band are playing something no one else has touched. Intensely haunting, disturbingly violent and unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. Transience could possibly be considered the first depressive grindcore album, and it is one that really puts it all on the table. Dead in the Manger have released one of the most original pieces of metal this year and you would be hard pressed to find a better example of a band forging into new territory.
Written for The Metal Observer.